By Jon Miller | Post Date: September 27, 2005 11:07 AM | Comments: 11
I recently spent 3 days standing on the shop floor while leading a training event for future kaizen facilitators. I spent probably 8.5 hours per day standing, 60 minutes sitting (lunch, breaks), and 30 minutes walking around the 100 square meters occupied by the pilot cell.
If I hadn't been doing this sort of thing for the last 12 years I imagine my feet would have been tired. It's something you get used to. It takes about two weeks. But converting a workplace from sitting work to standing work is one of the bigger challenges with Lean Enterprise transformation.
As more companies go to 10 and 12 hour shifts, factory managers worry that the workers will be tired of standing by the end of the day. They will for the first two weeks or so until their muscles adjust. They may complain for longer than two weeks if the principles of Lean manufacturing (competitiveness by cutting out waste through one-piece flow) are not explained to them.
Standing work enables flow. In addition:
1. Standing work is more ergonomic. When you lift from a sitting position you are using your lower back and very little of your abdominal muscles. When you are standing you use leg and abdominal muscles as well as your arms for lifting.
2. Standing gives you greater range of motion and allows you to use vertical space more effectively for material presentation and tool location.
3. Standing enables multi process handling. When you stand, you can walk. When you walk you can move the product form process to process. Sliding along in a chair just isn't the same.
4. Standing reduces space required. No chairs mean you need about half of the footprint per person, resulting in more compact work cells.
We do have to do something about the sore feet during those first two weeks. Look at the shoes people are wearing. Do they have thick, cushioned soles? Issue them good new shoes if not. Are they standing on concrete? Probably so. Place floor mats under the working positions to further cushion their feet.
Although few companies outside of Toyota do this effectively (if at all), rotating work positions every 2 hours to a different type of process (from standing to walking work, for instance) helps use different muscles, enhance cross training and cut down on the boredom.
I recognize that not everyone can stand all day or work at a certain pace for physical reasons. Processes should be designed around people, not the other way around. But ultimately the market determines what kind of processes will succeed in winning business from customers.
Going from sitting work to standing work is a leap for some, and it's not something you want to attempt on your first kaizen. There are other battles you can win first. In the end a Lean process will require standing work in many places, even the office.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.